Tumbling is such an intense read. I have always loved watching gymnastics – whether it was live Olympics or just TV shows or movies about gymnastics. This book was only my second experience reading about gymnasts. Wow. The whole book takes places over only two days, the US Olympic Trials. Twelve girls are competing, but the book only focuses on 5 of them. You know that part in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix where Hermione tries to explain Cho Chang’s feelings to Ron and Harry (because she was crying while kissing Harry)? That’s what this book is like. Each chapter takes you into the head of one of those 5 girls as they’re competing or getting ready to compete, and let me just tell you – there are a whole lot of feelings going on!
Gymnastics is a highly competitive world that pushes young girls’ bodies to the limits. They often have to give up a lot of their sport – going to school, dating, having “normal” friends (or maybe even any friends at all). Each of the characters has a different background or experience, but they’ve all made sacrifices, and some of them are beginning to question whether those sacrifices are worth it. Not to mention every interaction with another gymnast is questioned, even whether that other girl is a supposed friend. Again…it’s really intense.
My favorite characters were Wilhelmina and Monica. Wilhelmina is one of the older gymnasts. Because of where her birthday falls in relation to the Olympic age cut off, she never got her chance 4 years ago when she was at her peak, so she’s desperately trying to fulfill her dream this time around. But she hasn’t gone about things in the conventional way, and the bigwig of the gymnastics world doesn’t care for her. Monica is the nobody. She qualified for the Olympic trials seemingly out of nowhere. She’s never dreamed of the Olympics, but they might now be within her grasp…as an alternate, she hopes. She has idolized Wilhelmina since she was a little girl. They’re both underdogs, and I couldn’t help routing for them the whole time.
If you like gymnastics or competitive sports in general, or you just want to read an emotionally-charged book, check this one out. You won’t be disappointed. Now my question is…will there be a sequel? I need more of Caela Carter’s gymnastics world ASAP.
Rating: 4 Stars